KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A Knoxville couple says they've been scammed out of thousands of dollars by a Florida-based company they hired to help design a new tool for carpenters. They say they haven't been able to reach the design company and phone numbers for the company don't work.
From the beginning of time, human inventions and technologies have shaped and transformed our lives. David Lentz in Knoxville is one of those innovative thinkers.
His idea for a new tool for carpenters wasn't going to transform the world, but it could have made work a little easier. So, he got in contact with a design company to help him develop his idea.
David Lentz is unsteady on his feet because he's disabled. Before his injury, he had been a contractor and still thinks like one. He hoped the tool would one day be sold in home improvement stores.
"It's a table saw, chop saw combination. It's one unit built as one," he said.
"I thought it was pretty incredible that he actually came up with this. I was looking forward to seeing it come out this spring," said his wife Kristi.
Last June, they turned to Idea Design Studio in Miami, Florida. The business helps inventors like David Lentz and others develop their ideas with design, production, technical drawings and specifications.
"I gave them drawings, my ideas, of what it should look like," said David Lentz.
He signed a detailed contract with the company and started making payments last summer for a total of $4,495, but he has nothing to show for it today. The money is gone. Drawings and some specifications from Idea Design Studio are all they have.
"They disappeared. Couldn't contact them one bit. All their phone lines are disconnected," said David Lentz. "I'm a little discouraged. I'm disabled. I wanted to come up with an idea to make some money for my future."
David Lentz said Jeff Weiss was the name of the last man he spoke with. Weiss can be seen in a promotional video for the company. At the time, David Lentz said Weiss gave no indication of any production trouble at the design studio.
The phone number for Idea Design Studio just reaches a message saying the number is no longer available. There was no luck calling Weiss' personal number either.
The Better Business Bureau report on the company is an "F," due to unanswered consumer complaints.
"After we couldn't get a hold of them, found out that other people have been scammed as well out of thousands and thousands of dollars," said Kristi Lentz.
At this point, the couple wants others to know about their costly mistake and broken dream.
"I can't even ask for my money back because you can't get a hold of no one," said David Lentz.
The couple has contacted the Federal Trade Commission as well as Florida's state attorney general's consumer division about the Miami-based idea design company.
David Lentz says he regrets he never went to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to establish a provisional patent for his idea.
In the meantime, there are other reputable design companies, several in Tennessee, and the couple is now seeking their advice.